Does technology improve our lives, or just complicate it?

technology Just recently it hit me that my daughter, who will be one year in October, won’t know a world without smartphones, a trusty GPS, Bluetooth, Blu-ray, iPads, DVR, e-readers, social media, and so much more. Technology is taking over our lives and I’m not complaining, but as a parent of a “Generation Z’er”, I have to wonder just how differently her childhood and her life will be shaped from mine.

I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in high school, à la Zack Morris’ phone in Saved by the Bell (and before that I carried around a pager and had to call home within 15 minutes of being paged). My daughter received her first cell phone at two months old, à la Fisher Price.

Until I started thinking in terms of how younger generations’ lives are affected by technology, it never hit me just how much the average person depends on technology and how it shapes us. So it begs the question, does technology improve our lives, or just complicate them?

After I received my Droid Incredible two months ago, I caved to the curiosity and pressure of Foursquare. Since then, friends and family will probably attest (complete with eye rolls) that technology just complicates our lives after I whip out my phone at each venue to “check-in” to my location. What can I say? I’m always eager to see what my next badge will be, and just maybe I’ll become a Mayor someday.

E-readers are at the top of the latest trends list and at the forefront of minds from students to business travelers. I can see how having such devices can lighten the load and be beneficial to most. But as an avid reader, I much prefer to hold the real deal in my hands and then line them up on my bookshelves. And I shudder to think that there could be any real danger to print media.

Wait a minute, what’s happening here? Technology is supposed to make our lives better, richer and more convenient, but lately I’m finding myself slow on the uptake to these new technologies (not all, but some). It’s not lost on me that this makes me sound like I’m getting old.

How about mobile banking via an app on our smartphone? Again, this falls into the “complicate” category for me, even though I have yet to try it and it’s supposed to be more convenient. There’s just something about it that I don’t trust. I’m sure this will be common place for the upcoming generations, and visiting a bank teller will be no more.

When I threw the question out on Twitter asking if anyone had tried mobile banking I did receive a few replies, one stating that banking with Bank of America on the Droid is bad, and the user claims that one star is too high of a rating, and the other saying that while they haven’t tried mobile banking, they have heard of many people happily using QuickBooks mobile.

A recent article on How Technology Has Changed Business Communications talks about how individuals are growing less socially adept because of the minimal amount of experience they’ve accumulated in face to face interaction:

“The relational aspect of business communications has been changed definitively by the evolution of technology. With email, text messaging, social networking sites, and cell phones becoming more and more popular, face to face communication is become far less frequent. A side effect of this change has been a decreased emphasis on personal relationships with business contacts and clients by some companies.”

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and am now more aware of the fact, but I don’t recall technology advancing quite this fast two to three decades ago. So I’m curious, what do you think about how technology has changed our lives? Does it complicate it? Does it make it infinitely better? Or is a mix of the two? What is your e-reader, mobile banking or other technology experiences?

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2 Responses to Does technology improve our lives, or just complicate it?

  1. Doug Hurst says:

    It is comforting to know that other people are concerned about and struggling to deal with the escalating technology on a personal level and business level. Actually, part of the problem is that personal vs. professional lines are blurring due to recent technology.

    What recently occurred to me is that the change is now so fast that intra-generational differences are now apparent with people only a few years apart favoring different/new media and devices. It is a growing challenge for individuals and organizations to deal with the complexity in terms of effective communication and also secure communication.

    It is the consumers duty to choose the good technology and reject the rest just like at the grocery store. I recommend that we try to stay informed about new technology but be very selective when choosing and disciplined when using it.

    Did I just waste the last 20 minutes due to social media?

  2. Tareen Alam says:

    I just wrote about this a week ago and found your post to be interesting! And yes, It’s very comforting to know that others have also wondered what lies ahead.

    Generation Z will be intriguing in their development but the one after, Alpha, will have much to overcome. They can either take a further leap into “progression” or find comfort in the traditional roots we’ve strayed from. Generation A will be a pivotal outcome of all that we have placed importance on today. They have no option but to be pioneers for greater social, cultural, and technological changes. And with our greater life expectancy, we should all be alive to see it.

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